Energy Saving Tips For Newer Site Built Homes
There are many, many ways you can use electricity efficiently without giving up any comfort or convenience. It’s all just a matter of being aware of your behaviors and ways to adjust them or understanding how a small investment can make a big difference. Here’s a series of tips and some educational information (PDF).
We also have some savings tips that are specific for newer homes.
Energy Saving Tips For Newer Site-Built Homes
If your site built home was constructed between 1992 and today, high levels of insulation and efficient windows were installed into the home to comply with the Oregon Residential Energy Code. Homes built after 1992 do not need additional insulation or window work through CEC’s weatherization program, or an on-site energy analysis. Your home was “fully weatherized” during construction.
However, even if your home is fully weatherized, there may be things you can do on your own to reduce home energy use. If you need the services of a heating company we provide a courtesy list of companies that work on heating systems and/or do duct repair.
Heating – the primary energy use in most homes
Zonal heaters (wall heaters, baseboard heaters, etc). These are simple devices, 100% efficient, and require minimal maintenance.
- Keep the unit clean from dust, lint, etc. with a vacuum or by blowing out the accumulated dust.
- If your wall mounted thermostat overshoots, or undershoots, the temperature setting it may need to be replaced with a new, electronic, heat-anticipating, thermostat.
Forced air heating systems (furnaces, heat pumps, etc).
- Make sure your heating system is working properly by getting an annual service check from a heating contractor.
Duct Leakage. Any home or forced air heating system with ducts running in unheated spaces (crawlspaces and attics) can have leaky ducts that waste your heating dollars but the only way to tell if you’ve got a real problem is with a professional duct leakage test. Not all heating companies are prepared and certified to offer this service but heating companies on our Heat Pump Program list have the certifications needed for duct testing and repair.
- If the test shows high levels of leakage, it can usually be repaired and if repaired successfully by a certified company, CEC offers a cash discount through our Weatherization Program for duct sealing.
- The state of Oregon also offers a tax credit for duct sealing. Visit the Oregon Department of Energy (opens in new window) site for details.
Heat Pumps. They’re “installer sensitive” but they’re also the most efficient heating system available.
- Never set the thermostat to “Emergency” unless the heat pump is damaged, or not working.
- Air flow is important; low air flow means low efficiency. Keep filters clean and registers open for adequate air flow.
- Have the system serviced annually. Ask the technician to check the “strip heat lockout” for proper operation. If you don’t have one it is recommended that one be installed. Have the technician measure for “total air flow” through the furnace. It should be no less than 350 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) per ton of heat pump. Have the technician correct the air flow if needed.
Water Heating – the second largest user of energy in the home
- If you need to buy a new electric water heater look into the CEC Heat Pump Water Heater Rebate Program.
- Install timers on hot water recirculating systems. Recirculating systems save water but the cost to re-heat the circulated water is large.
- Check the temperature of the hot water with a thermometer at a faucet closest to the water heater. The general recommendation for water heater temperature setting is around 120º F. Reset the water heater thermostats if needed.
- Insulate the tank if it located in an unheated space.
- Turn off the tank at the circuit breaker panel if you’re gone for more than two days and if there is no chance of the tank being exposed to freezing temperatures.
Refrigerators and Freezers – typically the 3rd largest user of electricity in the home
- If you need to buy a new appliance buy an Energy Star rated model. New units use 50% less energy than older ones.
- Clean condenser coils frequently.
- Whenever possible, consolidate food items into fewer refrigerators or freezers.
- Use the “energy saver” switch if your refrigerator has one (this will self-defrost less in dry climates and save electricity). Defrost manual units when ice buildup exceeds ¼ inch.
- Provide enough space around the unit for air to circulate freely.
- Check door seals and replace when needed.
- Refrigerators and freezers operate most economically when filled to capacity, but don’t overload to the point of interfering with interior air circulation.
- Keep refrigerators and freezers away from sources of heat (direct sunlight, heating vents, etc.)
- If you need to buy a new clothes washer buy an Energy Star rated model. These improved machines use 50 % less energy.
- Use cold water and cold water detergents whenever possible. Wash only full loads.
- Keep dryer lint traps clean.
- Eliminate kinks and bends in dryer exhaust ducts.
- Check the dryer exhaust damper to see that it opens and closes easily.
- Maximize clothesline use.
- Use moisture sensor controls on the dryer, if available.
Use LED lighting wherever practical. They use at least 75% less energy compared to incandescent.
Install timers on circulating pumps if there is no danger of freezing. A one horsepower water pump running 24 / 7 will cost about $50.00 per month to run.
Automobile Block Heaters
Install a timer to run the heater for about 3 hours before starting the engine